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female cyclists with dental problems?

mollygidget2011-02-23 14:12:01 +0000 #1

I'm new to the forum, because generally when I have cycling questions, I can turn to my team. However, this one is directed at other women cyclists. I'm a really serious cyclist, I race pretty much year round, train 15-25 hours a week, did an Ironman last summer, etc. I recently had to get a bunch of dental work done, and when my dentist was done, he asked if I was bulimic. He said that the erosion on my enamel was consistent with what he would see for someone with bulimia. I'm not bulimic, never have been, so I was obviously confused. Then I remembered a female teammate who, upon visiting her dentist, got asked the exact same thing. I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience, or whether it's just a weird coincidence that she and I were asked the same thing. I'm thinking if there are a few women cyclists out there who have heard the same thing, there might be something cycling-related (sports drinks from water bottles, saliva, something) that's causing it.

If any of you have had this issue or know a female (or male) cyclist who has, I would really appreciate your input!


Melalvai2011-02-23 14:23:59 +0000 #2
That is really interesting. I wonder if it is related to the calcium issue. Cycling is not weight-bearing exercise so elite cyclists are at risk for osteoporosis. I wouldn't have thought that would extend to the teeth, but I don't know too much about calcium partitioning.
Eden2011-02-23 14:25:58 +0000 #3
I've head that sports drinks can be a problem.
Thorn2011-02-23 14:35:21 +0000 #4

Originally Posted by Eden

I've head that sports drinks can be a problem.

Yep...that's what I was going to say. Same thing about the enamel, but I was accused of a hard-candy habit. But

I switched from sports drink to shot-blocks and water so that I could reduce the amount of time I had sugar contact (I'm a constant sipper of fluids). Brushing after riding and on long rides, xylotol gum in the middle. It seems to have helped.
jessmarimba2011-02-23 14:40:15 +0000 #5
Sports drinks, gels, gu, gummies, etc are awwwfuuulllll for your teeth. Especially if you're riding, the sugar just sticks (if I'm running and eating gummies, I spend miles just picking them out of my teeth...sorry for tmi)

I switched to nuun and try to eat real food if possible (I love little baked potato strips but they squish really easily if you fall on gross). If I'm eating something really sugary on a ride I try to swig some water/nuun, swish it around, and spit it out after I eat.
OakLeaf2011-02-23 14:29:34 +0000 #6
Hmmmm... anyone know whether sports drinks that are based on maltodextrin, with little to no simple sugar, are just as hard on your teeth??

You've got me worried now...
Owlie2011-02-23 16:46:45 +0000 #7
At least according to what my dentist says, if the bacteria in your mouth can break it down and metabolize it, it's not a good thing to have in your mouth for long periods. It looks like they can break down maltodextrins.

Here's an abstract, garnered from a quick Google search:

Guess it's time to add a quick teeth-brushing to the post-ride routine...
Muirenn2011-02-23 15:51:41 +0000 #8
People who drink a lot of acid drinks can damage the enamel on their teeth the same way stomach acid damages it. Citric juices, sodas, sports's worse if you sip the stuff all day long. Even citric-based seltzer waters are bad. And diet sodas.

If you have very little body-fat coupled with acid-damaged teeth, that may be why he asked. Stomach acid has a pH between 1 & 2; if memory serves, and so do diet sodas. Extremely acidic. But bulimia does not, strictly speaking, lead to low body-fat. That's more a symptom of anorexia. So his question isn't completely based on fact, really. Though the symptoms are often found together.

Anorexics don't purge. They just don't eat enough, and may have blackened, rotting teeth due to malnutrition and too low calcium. And have very low body-fat.

If a person has anorexic-bulimia, they will alternate between starving and the binge/purge cycle. Anorexic-bulimics are the ones that most often die from their disorder. Having both sets of symptoms is incredibly dangerous. Though both bulimia and anorexia can be fatal.

A bulimic may refrain from eating as a form of purging after a binge, or engage in extreme amounts of exercise to offset the purge, or vomit; among other things. An anorexic does not want to ingest food in the first place. Bulimics tend to have normal to slightly above normal body weight. And acid-damaged teeth.

On a related topic: Too low calcium and body weight is why anorexics have amenorrhea (cessation of menstral cycle during child-bearing years), whereas bulimics don't often experience amenorrhea. (Bulimics can have too low Ca, but not to the extent of someone who doesn't eat enough).

Elite atheletes are also prone to amenorrhea and dental problems due to low calcium and body weight brought on by very high amounts of exercise. If that is happening, need to supplement, change the diet, and do more weight-bearing exercise. The bones absorb Ca more easily with weight-bearing exercise. Also perhaps see a nutritionist.

If a person does have the symptoms of an eating disorder (forgoing food, binging, purging), they need to see a therapist. It's the only psychological disorder that directly leads to death from its symptoms. (Unlike depression, where suicide is an indirect result).

Edit: your original question, why both you and your friend were asked? Eating disorders are very common in elite female atheletes. Especially ballet, gymnastics, figure skating, swimming, cycling.... He probably just assumed or was obligated to inquire. Not asking would have been irresponsible/unethical. OTOH, most people with eating disorders will not admit to it when asked.



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